mercredi 16 mai 2012

Saint JEAN NÉPOMUCÈNE, prêtre et martyr


Saint Jean Népomucène, prêtre et martyr

Il naît en Bohème vers 1340, à Nepomuk d'où son nom. Etudiant en droit, il entre chez les chanoines de la cathédrale de Prague. De là, il devient vicaire général de son archevêque et chapelain de la reine. Il s'attire vite le courroux du roi Venceslas IV, empereur germanique. D'après la tradition la plus courante, il aurait refusé de divulguer les secrets dont il était dépositaire. D'autres motifs de divergence existent entre l'homme d'Eglise soucieux de l'indépendance du spirituel et le prince jaloux de son autorité. En 1392, le roi fait juger trois ecclésiastiques et s'oppose à l'élection d'un abbé bénédictin. Jean réplique en excommuniant un proche du roi. Sur ordre du roi, on arrête Jean Népomuk, on le torture, on l'assassine et enfin on jette son corps dans la Moldau, l’an 1393.

SOURCE : http://www.paroisse-saint-aygulf.fr/index.php/prieres-et-liturgie/saints-par-mois/icalrepeat.detail/2015/03/20/13991/-/saint-jean-nepomucene-pretre-et-martyr

SAINT JEAN NÉPOMUCÈNE

Prêtre et Martyr

(1338-1383)

Saint Jean Népomucène, né à Népomuk, en Bohème, fut deux fois l'enfant du miracle, car ses parents, déjà vieux, l'obtinrent par l'intercession de Marie et ne le conservèrent, dans une grave maladie, que grâce aux ferventes prières qu'ils adressèrent à la Reine du Ciel. L'éducation de Jean fut soignée; sa piété faisait l'admiration de tous.

Il ne se présenta à l'ordination sacerdotale qu'après avoir purifié son âme par le jeûne et la prière, dans une profonde retraite. Son éloquence lui fit confier une chaire importante, à Prague, et cette ville fut bientôt remuée par la parole ardente du jeune apôtre.

Jean se vit bientôt offrir un évêché, qu'il refusa; mais il accepta la charge d'aumônier de la cour, afin d'y exercer son zèle. L'impératrice le prit pour directeur de son âme. C'était une sainte. Cependant le roi, qui se livrait à toutes les débauches, osa concevoir d'odieux soupçons sur la conduite de sa vertueuse épouse, et un jour il fit venir le prêtre Jean et tenta de lui faire révéler le secret de la confession de son épouse. Le Saint recula d'horreur et refusa avec indignation.

Quelques jours après, on servit sur la table du prince une volaille qui n'était pas assez rôtie. Venceslas, furieux, ordonna de mettre à la broche le cuisinier maladroit et de le rôtir à petit feu. Les courtisans, devant cet ordre digne de Caligula, sont terrifiés et se taisent; mais l'aumônier de la cour est averti, et, nouveau Jean-Baptiste, il se présente devant ce nouvel Hérode pour lui reprocher sa cruauté. C'était mettre le comble à la rage du tyran.

Jean est jeté en prison; bientôt il comparaît devant le roi, qui de nouveau le supplie de lui faire connaître la confession de la reine. "Jamais! Jamais! répond le prêtre; le secret des consciences n'appartient qu'à Dieu." Aussitôt il est mis à la torture et brûlé à petit feu avec des torches ardentes: "Jésus! Marie!" s'écriait le martyr dans cet affreux supplice. Divinement guéri de ses plaies, il comprit que le repos ne serait pas de longue durée.

Amené une dernière fois en face du tyran, il entendit sortir de sa bouche cette menace définitive: "Parle, ou tu mourras!" Cette fois, Jean garda le silence, plus éloquent que toute réponse, et Venceslas ordonna de le mettre en un sac et de le jeter dans le fleuve pendant la nuit. Mais le corps du martyr suivit doucement le courant des eaux et fut toute la nuit environné de flambeaux, à la grande admiration de la ville entière.

Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.

SOURCE : http://magnificat.ca/cal/fr/saints/saint_jean_nepomucene.html


SAINT JEAN NÉPOMUCÈNE, 

MARTYR.

Aux martyrs immolés pour avoir refusé leur encens aux idoles du paganisme, aux martyrs que le fer des hérétiques a moissonnés, vient se joindre aujourd'hui un nouvel athlète qui a conquis la couronne dans un autre combat. Le divin Sacrement de la Pénitence, ce Sacrement qui rouvre le ciel au pécheur, réclame Jean Népomucène comme son glorieux défenseur.

Un secret auguste entoure comme d'une barrière sacrée le pacte de la réconciliation qui s'opère entre Dieu et le coupable devenu repentant ; ce secret mystérieux et sacramentel était digne d'avoir son martyr. Ainsi l’a voulu le divin instituteur de ce second Baptême où le sang rédempteur devient le bain salutaire de l'âme pécheresse, afin que l'homme timide n'hésitât pas à découvrir au médecin spirituel ses plaies les plus honteuses. Depuis dix-huit siècles, combien de martyrs cachés de ce secret qui donne la sécurité au pécheur, en même temps qu'il expose celui qui l'accepte aux plus redoutables sacrifices ! Le martyr que nous honorons en ce jour n'a pas été un martyr caché Son témoignage sur l'inviolabilité du secret sacramentel a été un témoignage public. Il a rendu ce témoignage au milieu des tortures, il l'a scellé de son sang.

Honneur donc au prêtre courageux et fidèle, digne de tenir dans ses mains les clefs qui ouvrent ou ferment le ciel ! Ses lèvres, inaccessibles â toute crainte et à toute complaisance; sa langue, qu'aucun intérêt d'ici-bas, si grave qu'il soit, ne saurait délier; le miracle permanent dont Dieu entoure un secret sur lequel a reposé et reposera le salut de tant de millions d'âmes : quel divin spectacle ! Mais une chose manquait encore : c'était que la palme du martyre vînt ombrager tant de merveilles. Le saint prêtre de Prague l'a cueillie, cette palme ; il en fait hommage à notre divin Ressuscité, que nous avons vu, en ces jours, instituer avec une si touchante miséricorde le Sacrement de Pénitence, où il communique à des hommes son propre pouvoir de remettre les péchés.

Nous donnons ici les Leçons que le Siège apostolique a approuvées pour la fête du saint martyr.

Jean naquit à Népomuk, ville de Bohème, dont il a tiré le surnom de Népomucène, de parents déjà avancés en âge. En présage do sa sainteté future, on vit paraître au-dessus do la maison où il naissait des feux qui jetaient un éclat merveilleux. Etant tombé gravement malade lorsqu'il était encore en bas âge, il échappa au danger qui menaçait sa vie par la protection de la sainte Vierge, à laquelle ses parents se sentaient redevables de sa naissance. Son caractère était des plus heureux, et une éducation pieuse vint seconder en lui l'appel du ciel. Son enfance se passa dans les exercices de religion; fréquenter l'église, servir les prêtres à l'autel, telles étaient ses plus chères délices. Il fit ses humanités à Zatek, d'où il alla ensuite à Prague pour étudier les sciences supérieures. Ce fut dans cette ville qu'il prit le doctorat en philosophie, en théologie et en droit canon. Elevé au sacerdoce, et rendu propre au salut des âmes par la science des saints, il se livra tout entier au ministère de la parole de Dieu. Son éloquence et sa piété l'ayant rendu célèbre par les succès qu'il obtenait dans l'extirpation des vices et dans la conversion des pécheurs qu'il ramenait dans la voie du salut, il fut pourvu d'un canonicat dans l'Eglise métropolitaine. Appelé à prêcher la doctrine évangélique en présence du roi Wenceslas IV, il réussit d'une manière si complète, que ce prince se laissait diriger par lui dans un grand nombre de bonnes œuvres, et le tenait en grand honneur à cause de ses vertus. Il lui offrit même des dignités importantes ; mais le serviteur de Dieu les refusa constamment, pour n'être pas détourné du ministère de la parole divine.

Chargé de la distribution des aumônes royales, il fut aussi appelé par la reine Jeanne à diriger sa conscience. Mais Wenceslas s'é-tant laissé aller à une conduite en opposition à ses devoirs et à l'éducation qu'il avait reçue, au point de se livrer à des vices odieux, en vint à supporter avec déplaisir les avertissements et les supplications de sa pieuse épouse. Ce fut alors qu'il voulut contraindre Jean à lui manifester les secrets que la reine avait pu lui confier dans le sacré tribunal. Le serviteur de Dieu refusa courageusement d'acquiescer à ce désir impie, et sut braver tour à tour les caresses, les tortures et les ennuis d'un cachot infect. Mais comme les lois divines et humaines ne devaient pas arracher Wenceslas irrité à son criminel projet, l'athlète du Christ annonça clairement au peuple, du haut de la chaire, la lutte suprême qui lui était réservée, ainsi que les calamités qui ne devaient pas tarder à fondre sur le royaume. Il partit bientôt pour Boleslaw, où l'on honore depuis des siècles une célèbre image de la sainte Vierge, et implora par de ferventes prières le secours céleste dont il avait besoin pour accomplir le bon combat. Rentré à Prague sur le soir de la Vigile de l'Ascension, le roi, qui l'avait aperçu par une fenêtre, le manda près de lui. Il le pressa avec plus de violence que jamais, le menaçant de le faire jeter à l'eau, s'il persistait à lui résister. Jean n'opposa qu'une constance invincible aux terreurs et aux menaces dont le prince voulait l'effrayer. Il fut donc précipité la nuit, par ordre de Wenceslas, dans la Moldaw, rivière qui coule à Prague, et obtint ainsi la couronne d'un glorieux martyre.

Dieu fit connaître par un prodige insigne l'attentat sacrilège qui venait d'être commis dans le secret, et manifesta ainsi la gloire du martyr. A peine les eaux du fleuve eurent-elles commencé à entraîner dans leur cours le corps inanimé de Jean, que tout à coup on aperçut des torches allumées nageant sur l'eau, et suivant la même direction. Dès le matin du jour suivant, les chanoines, bravant la colère du roi, vinrent enlever le saint corps, et le transportèrent en grande pompe à l'Eglise métropolitaine, où ils lui donnèrent la sépulture. La mémoire de ce généreux prêtre s'étant conservée, et la dévotion des fidèles envers lui, particulièrement de ceux qui s'adressent à lui pour eu. être secourus lorsqu'ils sont menacés dans leur réputation, n'ayant cessé de s'accroître, on fit après plus de trois cents ans la reconnaissance juridique de son corps, qui durant tout cet intervalle était demeuré caché en terre; la langue du martyr fut trouvée sans corruption et conservant sa carnation naturelle. Six ans après, par un nouveau prodige, sous les yeux des juges délégués par le Siège Apostolique, on la vit tout à coup reprendre sa forme, et devenir vermeille, de noirâtre qu'elle était. Ces prodiges et plusieurs autres ayant été reconnus juridiquement, Benoît XIII inscrivit au catalogue des saints martyrs le dix-neuf mars mil sept cent vingt-neuf, ce courageux défenseur du secret sacramentel, qui en avait le premier scellé de son sang l'inviolabilité.

QUEL insigne honneur le Fils de Dieu vous a réservé, ô glorieux martyr, en vous choisissant pour attester, par le témoignage de votre sang, le soin avec lequel il veille sur le secret auguste qui entoure et protège le Sacrement de la réconciliation ! D'autres que vous ont éprouvé, sans faiblir davantage, le poids de ce secret qui est le rempart inviolable du mystère de miséricorde ; mais c'est vous, ô Jean, que le ciel a choisi pour rendre le solennel témoignage de la discrétion sacerdotale. Vos combats n'ont pas seulement été connus des Anges; votre martyre a été public, et la piété des fidèles honore votre courage comme la preuve vivante de l'engagement qu'a daigné prendre le bon Pasteur de rendre facile aux brebis le retour au bercail.

Nous nous adressons à vous, saint martyr, en ce jour de votre triomphe, pour vous supplier d'avoir compassion des pécheurs. Ministre si éprouvé du Sacrement de Pénitence, vous voyez combien d'âmes négligent en ces jours de faire usage du moyen que notre Sauveur ressuscité a préparé pour leur salut. Au lieu de saisir cette seconde planche qu'il leur offrait après le naufrage, ils se laissent aller au gré des flots qui les entraînent dans l'abîme. Des multitudes innombrables de chrétiens ont été sourds, cette année encore, à l'appel de la sainte Eglise, qui les conviait avec tant d'instances à s'approcher d'un tribunal qui n'est dressé que pour la réconciliation. Intercédez, ô Jean, pour ces aveugles, pour ces imprudents, pour ces ingrats. Obtenez-leur cette grâce qui les abattra aux pieds du Dieu des miséricordes, toujours disposé à pardonner.

Il en est d'autres qui recourent au Sacrement de Pénitence, mais n'apportent pas les dispositions nécessaires pour y recevoir la justification de leurs âmes Éclairez-les, ô illustre martyr, sur le danger qu'ils courent en s'exposant à profaner le sang de la Rédemption. Inspirez à tous ceux qui se présentent au saint tribunal la sincérité de l'aveu et la contrition du cœur, afin que la vie de notre divin Ressuscité s'établisse en eux, et qu'ils ne la perdent plus. Par votre puissante intercession, suscitez des ministres zélés et fidèles de ce grand Sacrement dont vous fûtes le martyr ; bénissez leurs efforts, afin que par eux le nombre des enfants de Dieu s'accroisse, et que la grâce du Saint-Esprit possède un plus grand nombre de cœurs.

Jetez aussi un regard sur votre patrie terrestre, sur cette Bohême où habite un peuple fidèle qui vous aime et vous honore. Le champ de l'Eglise cependant n'y est pas sans ivraie. Après votre glorieux trépas, ô saint martyr, l'homme ennemi ne tarda pas à venir semer cette herbe maudite de l'hérésie sur le sillon que vous aviez tracé. Préservez le froment du Seigneur, et étendez votre compassion jusque sur cette malheureuse ivraie ; car elle peut, par la divine grâce de la foi, devenir froment à son tour. Assurez à cette terre de votre naissance la paix qu'on voudrait lui ravir en ces jours, et garantissez son peuple des pièges qui lui sont tendus.

SOURCE : http://www.abbaye-saint-benoit.ch/gueranger/anneliturgique/paques/paques02/saints/059.htm


Saint Jean Népomucène

prêtre et martyr (✝ 1393)

Il naît en Bohème vers 1340, à Nepomuk d'où son nom. Etudiant en droit, il entre chez les chanoines de la cathédrale de Prague. De là, il devient vicaire général de son archevêque et chapelain de la reine. Il s'attire vite le courroux du roi Venceslas IV, empereur germanique. D'après la tradition la plus courante, il aurait refusé de divulguer les secrets dont il était dépositaire. D'autres motifs de divergence existent entre l'homme d'Eglise soucieux de l'indépendance du spirituel et le prince jaloux de son autorité. En 1392, le roi fait juger trois ecclésiastiques et s'oppose à l'élection d'un abbé bénédictin. Jean réplique en excommuniant un proche du roi. Sur ordre du roi, on arrête Jean Népomuk, on le torture, on l'assassine et enfin on jette son corps dans la Moldau.

Sa canonisation en 1729 en fait un symbole de la Réforme catholique en Bohème.

À Prague en Bohème, l’an 1393, saint Jean Népomucène, prêtre et martyr. Pour la défense des droits de l’Église, il reçut des outrages nombreux du roi Wenceslas IV, fut exposé à divers supplices et tortures, et enfin jeté d’un pont dans la Moldava.

Martyrologe romain



Né à Népomuk (Bohême) en 1330, Jean obtint à Prague le grade de docteur en théologie et en droit puis, ordonné prêtre, il s'illustra comme prédicateur à Notre-Dame de Tein. Devenu chanoine de Prague, il prêcha à la cour et fut choisi comme aumônier du sinistre empereur Wenceslas ce qui lui permit de déployer des trésors de charité tant au service des pauvres qu'il secourait que des autres dont il apaisait les querelles. Confesseur de l'impératrice Jeanne, il fut sommé par Wenceslas de trahir le secret de la confession sous peine de mort. Ayant refusé, il fut emprisonné et torturé, mais l'impératrice obtint son élargissement. Il avait repris ses prêches, lorsqu'un soir, Wenceslas le fit choisir entre la trahison du secret de confession et la mort. Il fut précipité, les mains liées, dans la Moldaw, la veille de l'Ascension (16 mai 1383).



Saint Jean Népomucène ainsi surnommé parce qu'il était né (l'an 1330) à Népomuck, en Bohême, fut deux fois l'enfant du miracle, car ses parents, déjà vieux, l'obtinrent par l'intercession de Marie et ne le conservèrent, dans une grave maladie, que grâce aux ferventes prières qu'ils adressèrent à la Reine du ciel, prières accompagnées du vœu de le consacrer au service divin.

L'éducation de Jean fut soignée ; sa piété était si remarquable, qu'elle faisait l'admiration de tous ceux qui le connaissaient. Il ne se présenta à l'ordination sacerdotale qu'après avoir purifié son âme par le jeûne et la prière, dans une retraite profonde.

Son éloquence lui fît confier une chaire importante, à Prague, et cette ville fut bientôt remuée par la parole ardente du jeune apôtre. Jean se vit bientôt offrir un évêché; mais il refusa et n'accepta que la charge d'aumônier de la cour, afin d'y exercer son zèle. L'impératrice le prit pour directeur de son âme. C'était une sainte.

Cependant le roi, qui se livrait à toutes les débauches, osa concevoir d'odieux soupçons sur la conduite de sa vertueuse épouse, et un jour il fit venir le prêtre Jean et tenta, par les flatteries et par les menaces, de lui faire révéler le secret de la confession de son épouse.

Le Saint recula d'horreur et refusa avec indignation.

Quelques jours après, on servit sur la table du prince une volaille qui n'était pas assez rôtie. Venceslas, furieux, ordonna de mettre à la broche le cuisinier maladroit et de le rôtir à petit feu. Les courtisans, devant cet ordre digne de Caligula, sont terrifiés et se taisent; mais l'aumônier de la cour est averti, et, nouveau Jean-Baptiste; il se présente devant ce nouvel Hérode pour lui reprocher sa cruauté.

C'était mettre le comble à la rage du tyran. Jean est jeté en prison ; bientôt il comparaît devant le roi, qui de nouveau le supplie de lui faire connaître la confession de la reine : " Jamais ! Jamais ! répond le prêtre ; le secret des consciences n'appartient qu'à DIEU. » Aussitôt il est mis à la torture et brûlé à petit feu avec des torches ardentes : «JÉSUS! Marie! » s'écriait le martyr dans cet affreux supplice.

La grâce divine put seule guérir ses plaies. Élargi de nouveau, il comprit que ce repos ne serait pas de longue durée ; il fit donc ses adieux au peuple qu'il avait évangélisé avec tant de zèle, et bientôt, amené une dernière fois en face du tyran, il entendit sortir de sa bouche cette menace définitive : « Parle, ou tu mourras! »

Cette fois, Jean garda le silence, plus éloquent que toute réponse, et Venceslas ordonna de le mettre en un sac et de le jeter dans le fleuve pendant la nuit. Mais le corps du martyr suivit doucement le courant des eaux et fut toute la nuit environné de flambeaux lumineux comme des étoiles, à la grande admiration de la ville entière.

C'était le jour de l'Ascension, 16 mai 1383.

Pratique. Évitez les péchés de la langue ; veillez sur vos paroles et sachez garder un secret.



Saint Jean Népomucène, ainsi surnommé parce qu’il était né l’an 1330 (Jean XXII étant pape, Louis IV empereur et Philippe VI de Valois roi de France) à Népomuck, en Bohême, fut deux fois l’enfant du miracle, car ses parents, déjà vieux, l’obtinrent par l’intercession de Marie et ne le conservèrent, dans une grave maladie, que grâce aux ferventes prières qu’ils adressèrent à la Reine du Ciel, prières accompagnées du vœu de le consacrer au service divin.

L’éducation de saint Jean fut soignée ; sa piété était si remarquable, qu’elle faisait l’admiration de tous ceux qui le connaissaient. Il ne se présenta à l’ordination sacerdotale qu’après avoir purifié son âme par le jeûne et la prière, dans une retraite profonde.

Son éloquence lui fit confier une chaire importante, à Prague, et cette ville fut bientôt remuée par la parole ardente du jeune apôtre. Saint Jean se vit bientôt offrir un évêché ; mais il refusa et n’accepta que la charge d’aumônier de la cour, afin d’y exercer son zèle. L’impératrice le prit pour directeur de son âme. C’était une sainte.

Cependant le roi, qui se livrait à toutes les débauches, osa concevoir d’odieux soupçons sur la conduite de sa vertueuse épouse, et un jour il fit venir le prêtre Jean et tenta, par les flatteries et par les menaces, de lui faire révéler le secret de la confession de son épouse. Le saint recula d’horreur et refusa avec indignation.

Quelques jours après, on servit sur la table du prince une volaille qui n’était pas assez rôtie. Venceslas, furieux, ordonna de mettre à la broche le cuisinier maladroit et de le rôtir à petit feu. Les courtisans, devant cet ordre digne de Caligula, sont terrifiés et se taisent ; mais l’aumônier de la cour est averti, et, nouveau Jean-Baptiste, il se présente devant ce nouvel Hérode pour lui reprocher sa cruauté. C’était mettre le comble à la rage du tyran.

Saint Jean est jeté en prison ; bientôt il comparaît devant le roi, qui de nouveau le supplie de lui faire connaître la confession de la reine : « Jamais ! jamais ! répond le prêtre ; le secret des consciences n’appartient qu’à Dieu. »

Aussitôt il est mis à la torture et brûlé à petit feu avec des torches ardentes : « Jésus ! Marie ! » s’écriait le Martyr dans cet affreux supplice. La grâce divine put seule guérir ses plaies. Élargi de nouveau, il comprit que ce repos ne serait pas de longue durée. Il fit donc ses adieux au peuple qu’il avait évangélisé avec tant de zèle, et bientôt, amené une dernière fois en face du tyran, il entendit sortir de sa bouche cette menace définitive : « Parle, ou tu mourras ! »

Cette fois, saint Jean garda le silence, plus éloquent que toute réponse, et Venceslas ordonna de le mettre en un sac et de le jeter dans le fleuve pendant la nuit. Mais le corps du Martyr suivit doucement le courant des eaux et fut toute la nuit environné de flambeaux lumineux comme des étoiles, à la grande admiration de la ville entière. C’était le jour de l’Ascension, 16 mai de l’an 1383, Clément VII étant pape, Venceslas empereur et Charles VI roi de France.


St. John Nepomucene

Born at Nepomuk about 1340; died 20 March, 1393. The controversy concerning the identity of John of Pomukor Nepomuk (a small town in the district of Pilsen, Bohemia), started in the eighteenth century, is not yet decided. The principal question at issue is whether there was only one John of Nepomuk, or whether twopersons of that name lived in Prague in the second half of the fourteenth century and met with precisely the same fate. This inquiry leads naturally to the further question, as to the true cause of John's violent death. In a controversy of this character it is of primary importance to set down clearly the information given in the original sources. Extant documents, ecclesiastical records, and contemporaneous accounts of the second half of the fourteenth century relate in unmistakable fashion that in 1393 a certain John of Nepomuk was Vicar-General of the Archdiocese of Prague, and that on 20 March of the same year by command of King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia he was thrown into the Moldau and drowned. This John was the son of Welflin (or Wölflin), a burger of Pomuk (Nepomuk), and studied theology and jurisprudence at the University of Prague. In 1373 he took orders and became public notary in the archiepiscopal chancery, and in 1374 was made prothonotary and first secretary of Archbishop John of Jenzenstein (Jenstein). In 1389 he received the parish of St. Gallus inPrague, and, continuing meanwhile his studies of jurisprudence at the university, was promoted in 1387 to thedoctorate of canon law. He was also a canon in the church of St. Ægidius in Prague, and became in 1389 canonof the cathedral in Wyschehrad. In 1390 he gave up the parish of St. Gallus to become Archdeacon of Sasz, and at the same time canon of the Cathedral of St. Vitus, without receiving however any cathedral benefice. Shortly afterwards the archbishop named him president of the ecclesiastical court, and in 1393 his vicar-general. King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia, wishing to found a new bishopric for one of his favourites, ordered that at the death of Abbot Rarek of Kladrau no new abbot should be elected, and that the abbey church should be turned into a cathedral. The archbishop's vicar-general, however, interposed energetically on this occasion in defence of canon law. When Abbot Rarek died in 1393, the monks of Kladrau immediately held a newelection, the choice falling on the monk Odelenus, and John, as vicar-general, promptly confirmed this electionwithout referring to the wishes of the king. Upon hearing this Wenceslaus fell into a violent rage, and had thevicar-general, the cathedral official, Provost Wenceslaus of Meissen, the archbishop's steward, and later thedean of the cathedral thrown into prison. The first four were even tortured on 4 March, but, although the others were thus brought to acquiesce in the wishes of the king and the official even proposed everlasting secrecy concerning all that had occurred, John of Nepomuk resisted to the last. He was made to undergo all manner of torture, including the burning of his sides with torches, but even this could not move him. Finally, the king ordered him to be put in chains, to be led through the city with a block of wood in his mouth, and to be thrown from the Karlsbrücke into the river Moldau. This cruel order was executed on 20 March, 1393.


We possess four contemporaneous accounts concerning these proceedings. First of all, the extant bill of indictment against the king, presented to Benedict IX by Archbishop John of Jenzenstein, who went to Romewith the new Abbot of Kladrau on 23 April, 1393 (Pubitschka, Gesch., IV, app.; ed. Pelzel, "Geschichte König Wenzels", I: "Urkundenbuch", 143-63). Some years later Abbot Ladolf of Sagan gives an account of it in a somewhat abbreviated form in the catalogue of the Abbots of Sagan completed in 1398 (ed. Stenzel in "Script. rerum Silesiacarum", I, 1835, pp. 213 sqq.), as well as in the treatise "De longævo schismate", lib. VII, c. xix (Archiv für österreichische Geschichte, LX, 1880, pp. 418 sq.). A fourth reference is to be found in the "Chronik des Deutschordens", a chronicle of the Teutonic Knights which was compiled by John of Posilge who died in 1405 ("Scriptores rerum Prussicarum", III, Leipzig, 1860—, 87). For the discussion of the question it is important to remark that Archbishop John of Jenzenstein in his above-mentioned indictment (art. 26) callsJohn of Nepomuk "martyr sanctus", and that, in the biography of John of Jenzenstein by his chaplain, John ofNepomuk is described as "gloriosum Christi martyrem miraculisque coruscum". It is thus clear that his contemporaries had already begun to honour as a martyr and a saint the vicar-general put to death by the cruel and licentious tyrant for his defence of the law of the Church. The body of John of Nepomuk was drawn out of the Moldau and entombed in the cathedral of Prague, where in fact, as is proved by later documents, his grave was honoured.

In his "Chronica regum Romanorum", finished in 1459, Thomas Ebendorfer (d. 1464) relates that KingWenceslaus had Magister John, the father confessor of his wife, drowned in the Moldau, not only because he had said that "only he who rules well is worthy of the name of king", but also because he had refused to violate the seal of the confessional. The refusal to violate the seal of the confessional is here for the first time given as the reason for John's violent death. The chronicler, who speaks of only the one John drowned by order of King Wenceslaus, evidently refers to the John of Pomuk put to death in 1393. In the other chronicles written in the second half of the fifteenth century, we find the reason regularly assigned for the execution ofJohn, that he had refused to tell the king what the queen had confessed to him.

Paul Zidek's "Instructions for the King" (sc. George of Podiebrad), completed in 1471, contains still more details (cf. Schmude in "Zeitschrift für kathol. Theologie", 1883, 90 sqq.). He says that King Wenceslaussuspected his wife, who was accustomed to confess to Magister John, and called upon the latter to declare the name of her paramour. On John's refusal to say anything, the king ordered him to be drowned. In this old account we do not find the name of the queen or any date assigned to this occurrence; a little later the year 1383 is given, when Wenceslaus's first wife, Johanna (d. 1389), still lived.

In his "Annales Bohemorum" ("Kronika ceská", first printed in Bohemian, Prague, 1541; translated into Latinand published by Gel. Dobner in 6 vols., Prague, 1761-83) the Bohemian historian, Hajek von Liboczan (d. 1553), in view of these varying accounts, is the first to speak of two Johns of Nepomuk, who were put to death by order of King Wenceslaus: one, the queen's confessor, and martyred for refusing to violate the secret of the confessional, having been thrown into the Moldau in 1383; the other, auxiliary Bishop of Prague, drowned in 1393 because he confirmed the election of the monk Albert as Abbot of Kladrau. The laterhistorians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries give more or less legendary details of the universally accepted martyrdom of John, because he refused to violate the secret of the confessional. Bohuslav Balbinus, S.J., in his "Vita b. Joannis Nepomuceni martyris" (Prague, 1670; "Acta SS.", III, May, 668-80) gives the most complete account. He relates with many details how on 16 May, 1383 (this date is already found in old accounts), John of Nepomuk, because he steadily refused to betray the confession of Queen Johanna to KingWenceslaus, was by order of the latter thrown into the Moldau and drowned. From the year 1675 the cathedralchapter of Prague repeatedly petitioned Rome for the canonization of Blessed John of Nepomuk, who enjoyed special veneration in Bohemia. In the years 1715-20 evidence was gathered and the cause examined; in 1721 followed the beatification, and in 1729 the canonization. The acts of the canonization are based on the statements, according to which John died on 16 May, 1383, a martyr to the secrecy of the confessional. But ever since 1777, when the Augustinian Hermit, Athanasius a Sancto Josepho, sought to prove by the testimony of Archbishop Jenzenstein's written accusation, which did not become known till 1752, that John ofPomuk was put to death by Wenceslaus in 1393 for the reason given above, the controversy has never ceased.

We still find defenders of the opinion advanced by Hajek, that there are two Johns of Pomuk. Most modernhistorians, however, are probably correct in regarding the vicar-general murdered in 1393 as the only historicalpersonage. A few of these, however, do not look upon the confirmation of the election of the Abbot of Kladrauas the true reason for John's murder; they hold that Wenceslaus IV was already exasperated against John, because he would not violate the secret of the queen's confession, and took this opportunity for revenge. These details can in no way affect the validity of the canonization of the vicar-general, who had been recognized as a martyr immediately after his death. Consequently, when Protestant historians, as Abel, assert that the veneration of St. John Nepomucene was first introduced by the Jesuits to banish the cult of John Husfrom Bohemia, their contention is both unhistorical and without justification: the veneration of John ofNepomuk was widespread long before the Jesuits ever existed. St. John Nepomucene is patron saint ofBohemia. When in 1719 his grave in the Prague cathedral was opened, his tongue was found to be uncorrupted though shrivelled. His feast is celebrated on 16 May.

Sources

Acta SS., May, III, 668 sqq.; BERGHAUER, Protomartyr poenitentiæ (2 vols., Graz and Augsburg, 1736-61); ATHANASIUS A S. J OSEPHO, Dissertatio historico-chronologico-critica de Joanne de Pomuk (Prague, 1777); DOHNER, Vindiciæ sigillo confessionis divi Joannis nepomuc. Protomartyris poenitentiæ assertæ (Prague and Vienna, 1784); PUBITSCHKA, Chronologische Gesch. Böhmens VII (Prague, 1788); IDEM, Unusne an duo ecclesiæ metropolitanæ Pragensis canonici Joannis de Pomuk nomine in Moldavæ fluvium proturbati fuere? (Prague, 1791); ZIMMERMANN, Verbote einer Lebensgesch. des hl. Johannes von Nepomuk (Prague, 1829); FRIND, Der geschictl. hl. Johannes von Nepomuk (Eger, 1861; 2nd ed., Prague, 1871); IDEM, Der hl. Johannes von Nepomuk (Prague, 1879); ABEL, Die Legende vom hl. Johannes von Nepomuk in Zeitschr. für kath. Theol. (1883), 52-123; AMRHEIN, Historisch-chronolog. Untersuchungen über das Tedesjahr des hl. Johannes von Nepomuk (Würzburg, 1864); NÜRNBERGER in Jahresbericht der schlesischen gesellschaft für vaterländischer Kultur (1904), 17-35; POTTHAST, Bibl. hist. medii ævi II (2nd ed.), 1400-1.

Kirsch, Johann Peter. "St. John Nepomucene." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company,1910. 16 May 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08467a.htm>.


Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by WGKofron. With thanks to St. Mary's Church, Akron, Ohio.


Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

John Nepomucen M (RM)

Born at Nepomuk, Bohemia, 1340; died in Prague, March 20, 1393; canonized in 1729. Saint John used the name of his native town for his surname instead of his family name of Woelflein or Welflin. He studied at the University of Prague, was ordained, and became a canon. In time, he became vicar general of Archbishop John of Genzenstein at Prague and according to tradition incurred the enmity of dissolute King Wenceslaus IV when he refused to reveal what Queen Sophie, Wenceslaus' second wife, had told him in confession. Of a retiring disposition, Father John repeatedly refused bishoprics which were offered to him.


In 1393 (or 1383 according to some), he became involved in a dispute between Wenceslaus and the archbishop when the king sought to convert a Benedictine abbey into a cathedral for a new diocese he proposed to create for a favorite when the aged abbot died. The archbishop and John thwarted him by approving the election of a new abbot immediately on the death of the old abbot. At a meeting with John and other clerics, Wenceslaus flew into a rage, tortured them so that John was seriously injured, and then had him murdered and thrown into the Moldau River at Prague (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney)


Saint John is portrayed in art as an Augustinian canon with a fur almuce and a bridge near him. He may hold his finger to his lips and have seven stars around his head, or wear a padlock on his lips (in Austria and Bohemia). John, patron of confessors and bridges, is venerated in Austria and Spain (Roeder).

St. John Nepomucen, Martyr

From his life, collected by F. Balbin, the Jesuit, published by Papebroke with preliminary remarks, t. 3, Maij, p. 667. Also Benedict XIV. de Canoniz. SS. and his life in French by F. Marne, Jesuit, printed in Paris in 1741, and S. Joan. Nepomuceni vita a Berghaver, cum figuris. Pragæ, 1736, folio.

A.D. 1383.

THIS servant of God possessed in an eminent degree, the virtues of a perfect anchoret, and of a zealous apostle, and by his death merited the crown of a glorious martyr. His martyrdom was the more illustrious, because the religious seal of confession (or strict obligation to silence in that tribunal on the part of the priest) not having yet armed tyrants against it, had found no victims before our saint. He was born at Nepomuc, a little town in Bohemia, some leagues from Prague, about the year 1330. His parents derived from their virtue a splendour which their birth or rank in the world did not afford them. If our saint had fewer obstacles from the world to overcome in giving himself to God, his sacrifice was not less fervent, less generous, or less perfect in the disposition of his heart. He was regarded as the fruit of his parents’ prayers. Soon after his birth his life was despaired of; but their confidence in God deserved to obtain his recovery through the intercession of the Holy Virgin Mary, which they earnestly implored in the church of a neighbouring Cistercian monastery. Gratitude moved them to consecrate their son to the service of God. They neglected nothing to give him a good education; nor could a child give more promising hopes of future greatness by his mildness, gentleness, docility, simplicity, devotion, and extraordinary application and capacity in his studies. The morning he spent in the neighbouring monastery in hearing several masses, which he did with a modesty and fervour that charmed those who saw him. When he had learned the first elements at home he was sent to Staaze, a considerable town, to study Latin. He excelled his schoolfellows in grammar, but surpassed himself in rhetoric. Charles IV. Emperor of Germany and king of Bohemia, and author of the Golden Bull in 1356, 1 had lately founded the university of Prague in imitation of those at Paris and Padua. John being sent thither distinguished himself in philosophy, divinity, and canon law: in which two last faculties he proceeded doctor. He had from his tender years regarded the priesthood as the great object of his pious ambition, that he might devote himself in the most perfect manner to promote the divine honour; and he always made the most frequent and devout participation of the adorable sacrament of the altar a kind of novitiate to that dignity. He increased the fervour of his preparation as he grew nearer the term, and retired from the hurry of the schools and the city into a solitude, there by fasting, prayer, and penance for a month, purifying his soul and disposing himself for the grace of that holy order, which he received at the hands of his bishop. This prelate being acquainted with his extraordinary talents, commanded him immediately to employ them in preaching, and committed to him the care of the parish of our Lady of Tein. Surprising were the first effects of his zeal. The whole city flocked to hear him, and in a short time appeared very much reformed. The students, who were then not fewer than forty thousand, thronged to his discourses, and many hardened libertines returned from hearing him, knocking their breasts and full of compunction.
The archbishop and canons preferred him to a canonry: but his constant attendance in the choir did not hinder, or abate his zealous application to all his former functions, in the care of souls. The Emperor Charles IV. having reigned thirty-two years, renowned for wisdom and piety, died at Prague in 1378, crowned with the benediction of his subjects. For though he had achieved no great exploits, he had always been a lover and protector of the church and his people. By great largesses to the electors, he procured his son Wenceslas to be chosen king of the Romans in 1376. This prince succeeded him in the empire upon his death the year following, being only sixteen years old. Intoxicated with power and flattery, he discovered early symptoms of the most savage and vicious inclinations, by which he has deserved the infamous surnames, of the slothful and the drunkard. He resided at Prague, and hearing high commendations of St. John, he pitched upon him to preach the Lent to his court. The holy man saw how difficult and dangerous a task it would be to make the emperor relish the genuine truths of the gospel, as he was not unacquainted with his stupid and brutish temper. However, he accepted the employ, and was much applauded by the court and by the emperor himself; and his discourses proved for some time a check to his passions. In testimony of his esteem, he offered the saint the first vacant bishopric, which was that of Leitomeritz, but no motives could prevail upon him to accept that dignity. It was thought that perhaps the care and labours inseparable from such a charge, contributed to his refusal. He was therefore offered the povostship of Wischeradt, which (next to the bishoprics) is the first ecclesiastical dignity of the kingdom of Bohemia, and to which are annexed great revenues of one hundred thousand German florens a year, with the honourable title of hereditary chancellor of the kingdom, and this without dangers or fatigues. But to reason thus is not to know the saints. If they refuse great places when they present labours to their zeal and crosses to their virtue, what must they think of those which offer nothing but riches and honours? The virtuous canon was therefore here again as firm as ever. But the more he shunned the esteem of men the more it followed him. He however accepted soon after the office of almoner of the court, which could only give him an authority and assistance the better to perform his duty as preacher to the court, and enable him in a private capacity to assist the poor, and to gain souls to God. Nor had this charge either the distractions, or the riches or honours, which had so much affrighted him in the dignities before mentioned. Thus humility fixed him in the court whither ambition leads others. He appeared there the same man he had been in his private life. His apartment was the rendezvous of all that were in affliction or distress. He declared himself their general advocate, and the father of the poor, and of all who suffered by unjust oppressions. His charity was also sagacious in finding out, and secretly reconciling all dissensions which arose in the court or city: of many whereof authentic monuments are still preserved, in which the patience of this great man, his penetration and judgment, and the equity of his decisions are equally admired. He found time for everything, because the saints, who in temporal concerns forget themselves, find more leisure than other men for the service of their neighbours.
The empress Jane, daughter of Albert of Bavaria, earl of Hainault and Holland, was a most virtuous and accomplished princess. Touched by the divine unction of the holy preacher, she chose him for the director of her conscience. The emperor loved her with the most violent passion: but as he was capricious and changeable, he often abandoned himself to fits of jealousy, which, joined to the natural fierceness and brutish fury of his temper, gave the princess much to suffer. As the world is saved by the sufferings of a God, so it is by afflictions that all the saints are crowned. To make the empress one by the crucifixion of her heart to whatever might divide it from God, the Lord employed the persecution of her husband, which was sometimes cruel to the utmost excess. But he gave her a comforter and guide in our saint, by whose counsels she squared her life. What fruit did not she reap by this means in a few years! Supported by a man whose zeal prepared him to martyrdom, she learned to suffer her afflictions with joy. Not only this princess, but all the virtuous persons of the court, sought to have the saint for their director, and he seemed to possess the talent of making saints upon the throne, and in the court, and men happy upon the cross. He also took upon himself the direction of the nuns of the castle of Prague, whom he conducted in the exercises of a spiritual life in such a manner, that this house became a model of perfection to all others. The empress, though always a person of virtue, became much more devout after she began to follow his advice. She became altogether religious, and was not afraid to appear such. The churches were the ordinary places in which she was to be found: she spent in them whole days on her knees, and in a recollection which was the admiration of every one. Her prayers were only interrupted by offices of charity to the poor, (whom she served with her own hands,) or by a short time for meals and relaxation, which she passed in conversing with her ladies on eternity and spiritual matters, on which she spoke with an ardour which bespoke her own fervour. This fire she nourished in her heart by the frequent use of the sacraments, and the practice of perpetual mortification. Such was her holy fear of God, that the very shadow of the least sin made her tremble; and upon the fear of the least failing or imperfection, she hastened to expiate it in the sacred tribunal of penance; from which she never came but with a heart broken with sorrow, and her eyes bathed in tears.
As a corrupted heart turns every thing into poison, Wenceslas grew the more impatient and extravagant by the piety of his consort, and by the tenderness and condescension with which she always behaved towards him; and on the return of a fit of mad jealousy, he made her virtuous conduct an argument for his suspicions. To know her interior, he formed a design of extorting from St. John what she had disclosed to him in the secret of confession, by which means he thought he should learn all the private sentiments she had ever entertained concerning him. In this view, he sent for the holy man, and at first began indirectly to sift him, and at length openly put to him his impious questions. The saint, struck with horror, represented to him, in the most respectful manner possible, how notoriously injurious such a sacrilege was both to reason and religion. But the emperor who had been long accustomed to deal with slaves, thought that no one ought to resist his will. However, in the end, he dissembled his rage; but the saint saw in his dark gloomy silence what he was to expect from so revengeful a prince. It happened one day that the tyrant finding a fowl not roasted to his taste at table, gave an order surpassing, if possible, the extravagancies of Caligula or Heliogabalus, that the cook should be immediately spitted and roasted alive at the same fire at which the fowl had been dressed. The officers were preparing to execute the barbarous sentence, which no one durst contradict, when St. John was informed of it; the poor servant was already pierced with several spits, and broiling before the fire, when the saint ran in and threw himself at the emperor’s feet. Wenceslas neither listened to his remonstrances, nor regarded the threats of divine vengeance; but the more earnestly the saint pressed him, the more outrageous he grew. At length he commanded him to be thrown into a dungeon; where he lay several days rejoicing in his chains, being sensible that the true cause was his former firmness in refusing to disclose the confession of the empress. Nor did Wenceslas make a mystery of it; for he sent him this message, that as long as he refused to disclose to him the confession of the empress, there was for him no hope of liberty. Yet, some days after, a gentleman of the palace came with an order to release him, begging in the emperor’s name, that he would forget the ill-treatment he had received, and dine the next day with his majesty, who had prepared a great entertainment for his sake, and to do him honour before his whole court. He was accordingly treated with the greatest magnificence and exterior marks of esteem and kindness. After the banquet, Wenceslas dismissed all the rest, and began to discourse with the saint in private, first about indifferent matters, but in the end pressing him all manner of ways to lay open to him the confession of the empress, promising secrecy, and all honours and riches, and threatening a refusal with the most horrible tortures and death. The saint answered firmly, and made fresh attempts to satisfy him on the justice and obligation of his silence. The tyrant at last gave orders that he should be carried back to prison and inhumanly tortured. He was stretched on a sort of rack: burning torches were applied to his sides, and to the most sensible parts of his body; he was burnt at a slow fire, and tormented other ways. Under his tortures he pronounced no other words but the sacred names of Jesus and Mary, and when loosened from the rack was left half dead. Our Lord visited his servant in this abandoned condition, and filled his soul with the most sweet consolations. In the mean time the empress was informed, and by her prayers, tears, and importunities, obtained of Wenceslas the enlargement of the servant of God. He, therefore, appeared again at court, but like a persecuted saint, full of joy and courage, showing by his countenance that he regarded his sufferings as the favours of heaven. Notwithstanding the present good humour of the prince, he prepared himself for death; and as if to take leave, and to supply by extraordinary labour the shortness of his time, he began to preach with greater zeal than ever. In one of these sermons, on that text, A little while and you shall not see me, he often repeated, “I have now but little time to speak to you;” and in the close of his discourse clearly foretold, in a prophetic rapture and shedding an abundance of tears, the evils which were shortly to fall on the church of Bohemia; literally verified in the Hussite tumults and civil wars. Coming out of the pulpit, having taken the last leave of his auditory, he begged pardon of the canons and clergy for the bad example which he humbly accused himself to have given them. From that day he gave himself up totally to those exercises which were a more immediate preparation of his own soul for eternity. In which, to obtain the protection of the glorious mother of God, he visited her image at Buntzel, which had been placed there by the apostles of the Sclavonians, SS. Cyril and Methodius, and is a place of great devotion among the Bohemians. He was returning home in the evening, after having poured forth his soul in most fervent prayer in that holy place, when the emperor, looking out of a window of his palace, saw him pass alone in the streets of Prague. The sight of the holy man renewed his indignation and sacrilegious curiosity, and ordering him to be immediately brought in to him, he fiercely bade him choose either to reveal the confession of the empress, or to die. The saint made no answer, but by his silence and the steadiness of his countenance gave him sufficiently to understand that he was not to be moved, and by bowing his head expressed his readiness to die. At which the emperor cried out in his fury, “Take away this man, and throw him into the river as soon as it shall be dark, that his execution may not be known by the people.” The barbarous order was executed, and after some hours which the martyr employed in preparing himself for his sacrifice, he was thrown off the bridge which joins the Great and Little Prague, into the river Muldaw, with his hands and feet tied, on the vigil of the Ascension, the 16th of May, 1383. The martyr was no sooner stifled in the waters, but a heavenly light appeared over his body floating on the river, and drew many to the banks. The empress ran in to the emperor, not knowing what had happened, and inquired what was the occasion of the lights which she saw on the river. The tyrant struck at the news, fled in a hurry like a man distracted, to a country house, forbidding any one to follow him. The morning discovered the villany, and the executioners betrayed the secret. The whole city flocked to the place; the canons of the cathedral went in procession, took up the body with great honour, and carried it into the church of the Holy Cross of the Penitents, which was the next to the place where the body was found. Every one resorted thither to kiss the hands and feet of the glorious martyr, to recommend himself to his prayers, and to procure, if possible, some relic of his clothes, or what else had belonged to him. The emperor being informed of this, sent an order to the religious Penitents to hinder any tumults in their church, and secretly to remove the body. They obeyed; but the treasure was discovered, and as soon as the canons had made every thing ready for its magnificent reception in the cathedral, it was conveyed thither with the utmost pomp by the clergy and whole city, and interred with this epitaph, which is yet read engraved on a stone upon his tomb: “Under this stone lies the body of the most venerable and most glorious Thaumaturgus JOHN NEPOMUCEN, doctor, canon of this church, and confessor of the empress, who, because he had faithfully kept the seal of confession, was cruelly tormented and thrown from the bridge of Prague into the river Muldaw, by the orders of Wenceslas IV., emperor and king of Bohemia, son of Charles IV., 1383.” Many miraculous cures of the sick under the most desperate disorders, during the translation and interment of his relics, and at his tomb, through his intercession, were public testimonies of his favour with God. The empress, after this accident, led a weak languishing life till the year 1387, when she closed it by a holy and happy death. The emperor staid some months in the castle of Zebrac, some leagues from Prague, hardening himself against the voice of heaven, fearing at first a sedition of the people; but religion taught the virtuous part their duty to their sovereign. Seeing therefore the things remain quiet in the city, he returned to it, and wallowed in his former slothful voluptuous life. But he soon felt that the punishment of a notorious sinner follows close upon his crime. The empire was torn with civil wars in all its parts. The Switzers revolting from Albert of Austria, set up their commonwealth without opposition: the emperor himself sold to John Galeas the duchy of Milan for one hundred thousand florins, and for money alienated many others of the richest provinces, one after another. The princes and states, in the very year 1383, sent to entreat the tyrant to leave Bohemia and reside in the empire, to put a stop to the growing evils. He laughed at the deputies, and said, if there were any malecontents among them, it was their duty to come to him. The states and princes of the empire at length entered into a general confederacy at Mentz, and deposed him from the imperial throne in 1400; and meeting at Laenstein in the archbishopric of Triers, chose first Frederic duke of Brunswick and Lunenburgh, and he dying in a few days, substituted Robert or Rupert of Bavaria, count palatine of the Rhine. Wenceslas, drowned in debaucheries, seemed insensible at this affront. The nobility of Bohemia, by the advice of his brother Sigismund, king of Hungary, confined him twice; but he found means to escape, and died of an apoplexy, without having time, in appearance, to think of repentance. This indolence fortified the Hussite heresy, broached in his reign by John Huss, rector of the university, and his disciple Jerom of Prague, which for above one hundred years filled the kingdom with civil wars, bloodshed, plunder, sacrileges, the ruin of families, and every other calamity.
The tomb of the saint continued illustrious for frequent miracles, and was protected by a wonderful providence from profanations, which were often attempted by the Hussites, and again by the Calvinists in 1618, in the wars of Frederick the elector palatine. On that occasion, several officers and workmen, who set themselves to demolish the tomb of the saint, were deterred by visible judgments, and some by sudden death upon the spot, which was the misfortune, among others, of a certain English gentleman. The complete victory by which the Imperialists under the command of the duke of Bavaria, under the walls of Prague in 1620, recovered this kingdom, is ascribed to the intercession of this holy martyr; who, as many attested, was seen appearing in glory with other patrons, by the guards in the cathedral, the night before the battle, and whose protection the imperial army had earnestly implored: from which circumstance the illustrious house of Austria has shown a particular devotion to his memory. The emperors Ferdinand II. and III. solicited his canonization, which was at length procured by Charles VI. In 1719, on the 14th of April, the saint’s tomb was opened where the body had lain three hundred and thirty years. The flesh was consumed, but the bones entire and perfectly joined together, with the marks of his fall into the river behind his head and on his shoulders. His tongue alone was found fresh and free from corruption, as if the saint had but just expired. The saint had been honoured as a martyr from the time of his death in Bohemia; but to make his veneration more authentic and universal, his canonization was demanded, and several new miracles were juridically approved at Prague and Rome. Innocent XIII. confirmed his immemorial veneration by a decree equivalent to a beatification; and the bull of his solemn canonization was published by Benedict XIII. in 1729. A narrative of many miracles wrought by his intercession may be read at the end of his life, as the wonderful preservation of the city of Nepomuc from the plague in 1680; the cure of various distempers in persons despaired of by the physicians; the deliverance of many from imminent dangers, and the protection of the innocence of many falsely accused. The Count of Althan, afterwards Archbishop of Bari, in the fall of a balcony in the palace of constable Colonna at Rome, was saved by St. John appearing in a vision, whose intercession he invoked aloud. Cardinal Michael Frederick Althan, Viceroy of Naples, was cured of a paralytic disorder, by which he had entirely lost the use of one arm, and of a complication of several other distempers, the moment he began to address his prayer to St. John on his festival, in the Minims church. Pope Benedict XIII. dedicated an altar under the invocation of St. John Nepomucen in the Lateran basilic.
In the sacrament of penance so indispensable is the law of secrecy, and so far does it extend, that the minister is bound, by all laws, so much to be upon his guard in this respect, that he may say with an ancient writer, 2 “What I know by confession, I know less than what I do not know at all.” St. John Climacus remarks, that a special providence watches over the fidelity of this sacred seal: “For,” says he, “it is unheard of that sins disclosed by confession should be divulged, lest others should be deterred from confessing, and all hope of health be cut off.” 3 Without this indispensable secrecy the very precept and obligation ceases. 4 And this law is expedient also to the public weal; for by it the minister will often draw sinners from dangerous designs which otherwise could never come to his knowledge, as F. Coton showed to the entire satisfaction of Henry IV. of France.
Note 1. This is called the golden bull from a golden seal fixed to it by silken strings. It was published with the utmost solemnity, in a great diet of all the princes, held at Nurembourg: and regulates the form of the government of the empire; the most minute circumstances to be observed in the election of an emperor, and the precedence, rights, and functions of the seven first electors. For the imperial diadem, at least after the failure of the Carlovingian race, had been elective, especially after it had been settled in Germany in the person of Otho I., surnamed the Great, king of Germany, who, having conquered Lombardy, was crowned emperor at Rome by Pope John XII. in 962. But the manner of making this election had often varied, and frequently all the princes of the empire had been allowed to give their suffrage. This same emperor, Charles IV. created four dukes of the empire, namely, those of Brunswick, Bavaria, Suabia, and Lorrain; four landgraves, viz., of Thuringia, Hesse, Alsace, and Leuchtenbourg, and many other princes. [back]
Note 2. Quæ per confessionem scio minus scio quam quæ nescio. S. Aug. vel siquis alius Serm. 10, ad Fratr. in Eremo, t. 6, Append. p. 336. [back]
Note 3. S. John Clim. Ep. ad Paston. c. 13. [back]
Note 4. See Suarez in 3 p. disp. 23, Sect. 2, and others. [back]
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume V: May. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.
Voir aussi http://www.christianiconography.info/johnNepomuk.html